Fear of Tornadoes (Lilapsophobia)


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Page last updated: 16/11/2022

Fear of Tornadoes (Lilapsophobia)

In this article, we explore the fear of tornadoes and tips to overcome them.

Fear of Tornadoes – Lilapsophobia

A more extreme type of astraphobia, or fear of thunder and lightning, can be seen as lilapsophobia, or fear of tornadoes and hurricanes. If you are suffering from lilapsophobia, you are not afraid of the normal summer storm, but of the risk of that storm being serious. Although rarer than astraphobia, this phobia is pretty common.


The fear of tornadoes and hurricanes is also traced to a negative event, like many phobias. Perhaps you were affected by extreme weather that caused you or someone you love to suffer personal injury or property harm. Or a tornado that wreaked havoc in your neighbourhood could have spared you, probably adding a touch of psychological trauma to the mix.

It is especially important to seek professional help if you have been through a truly destructive storm incident, such as Hurricane Katrina. It is likely that you will develop post-traumatic stress disorder in addition to lilapsophobia. Lilapsophobia can also be taught, like many phobias. If your parents, friends or relatives are scared of tornadoes and hurricanes, you may have picked up their fear.


While checking weather forecasts prior to outdoor activities is natural and rational, many individuals with lilapsophobia find that their lives are dominated by the weather. You may spend plenty of time checking the Weather Channel or online monitoring storms. On days when storms are forecast, you can refuse to go out.

You can exhibit unusual behaviour when a storm hits. Constantly checking for weather alerts; hiding under the bed or in a closet, and even setting a complete tornado plan into action as soon as the rain begins are all usual among those with this fear. You could listen very closely to the storm for tornado movement sounds, or you might try to block out the storm with loud music or movies altogether.

Many individuals find the lilapsophobia is compounded by being alone. In a panic, you might call a friend, or organize your schedule so that you are seldom alone. Some individuals with this phobia find that it will help them manage their fear by going to a mall, a movie theatre or a bookstore.

You may find that your everyday activities are becoming more and more limited over time. You may not be able to enter buildings that, even on clear, sunny days, you do not find “safe.” For fear that a storm might strike, you may hesitate to take part in outdoor activities or long road journeys.

Several kids go through a time of astraphobia, or fear of storms. In infants, lilapsophobia is not as widespread, but can definitely occur. Young kids who are just learning to distinguish imagination from reality are particularly vulnerable to concerns induced by images and interactions between adults. If a big storm is profiled or addressed by adults on television, kids might be scared that it will happen to them.

Since fears are a common part of growth, unless they continue for longer than six months, phobias are usually not diagnosed in children. Try to inform your child about the relative rarity of big storms, and describe to him the protocols for storm preparation. Of course, if the phobia is serious or ongoing, it is important to inform the child’s doctor so referral to a therapist might be appropriate.

The symptoms of lilapsophobia are discussed by Hollywood films like Twister (1996). Dr. Jo Harding, portrayed by Helen Hunt, watches the death of her father in a tornado in that film. As an adult, by being a storm chaser, she combats the resultant lilapsophobia. The movie features extremely realistic clips of large tornadoes, so for those struggling from this anxiety, it is not the best option.

Tornadoes and hurricanes are part of normal life, and today’s media give the ability to repeatedly, in vivid high-definition detail, experience destructive storms and their aftermath. Although coverage is definitely significant, keeping such coverage in context is crucially significant. While small weather events occur regularly, only those that are significant are considered to be newsworthy.

Media reports can quickly lead to a skewed conviction that extreme storms are much more widespread than they really are.

How to be Equipped Rationally

While your chances are fairly small of being trapped in a killer storm, the risks are real. It is necessary, therefore, to be prepared. The trick is to understand the distinction between logical preparedness and phobic responses.

Get a copy of your area’s authorized readiness material if you live in a storm-prone area. Via websites such as weather.gov and nhc.noaa.gov, these materials are also circulated in convenience stores, bookshops and other public locations or online. Read through the feedback and put together a strategy for storm preparation.

Let someone else track the weather if you share a home. That individual will warn you of any particular hazards and assist you in determining the right plan of action. This will relieve some of the stress which will help you prevent obsessive checking.

Learn about the storm patterns that impact your country. Hurricanes can be catastrophic, for instance, but they are expected well in advance. Tornadoes, but only under certain weather conditions, may grow rapidly. You will help you make more informed decisions about facing them by learning about the forms of storms that can impact you.

To keep a watchful eye out for approaching storms, lilapsophobia spend plenty of time observing the weather or verifying the weather online. When a storm hits, the sufferers are either constantly watching for severe weather notifications or taking cover, such as under the bed or in the windowless room. In extreme situations, as soon as rain starts falling, sufferers take tornado shelter, usually in the cellar or storm shelter. People with the condition with weather radio or cell phones would watch when covering the radar and warnings using it.

For several reasons, the fear of storms or tornadoes can grow. Some of the most common factors why individuals develop this fear may include:

Trauma experienced during a severe storm–  If you’ve ever been in a severe storm or tornado, this probably left a knowledge and awareness of the devastation they can provoke. You have, therefore, now learned to fear the incredible power of these mighty forces.

Seeing videos or clips of these storms– Sometimes seeing the damage left by these on the media, in images, and on the web may have made an impression on you that left a permanent fear in your mind.

Losing a loved one- Losing a loved one can also cause stress and trauma in extreme weather that can lead to a fear of tornadoes, hurricanes, and storms. Deeply Ingrained Fear of Death or Wrath of Nature

Fear of Tornadoes (Lilapsophobia)

Overcoming the fear of tornadoes

  • Be Educated About Tornadoes

One thing that really helps to get a grasp on my fear of storms and tornadoes is education. Before we knew anything about storms, we might have thought that tornadoes might just drop out of nowhere. The truth is, tornadoes only develop with the right ingredients.

There must be wind shear (ie, winds going different directions at different levels of the atmosphere, turmoil (in the form of hot vs cold air currents, or a front passing through), the appropriate temperatures (tornadoes are much more likely to form in a hot, humid condition, rather than cold and snowy), and so forth.

  • To teach yourself about them, these are the things you want to do primarily:

Understand tornadoes’ statistics and nature- While tornadoes can and do happen, most of them are deemed “weak” tornadoes. This means that most strong buildings can only cause minimal harm, such as blowing off shingles, destroying trees, etc. More strong tornadoes, such as blowing off roofs, or even levelling a structure, can do much more significant damage.

It is also very useful to learn the precise location of your county and city on a Doppler radar map, and also what the colours indicate on a radar. Know how to read a Doppler Radar. This will help you spot thunderstorms, and if they are heading for your location, know beforehand.

  • You may become a skilled spotter,

“Trained spotter” courses are also provided by several meteorology or national weather service centers. These will teach you about how tornadoes are created. The distinction between low hanging clouds (scud clouds) and real funnel clouds will also help you distinguish them.

You will learn that tornadoes are obviously aren’t very frequent, and severe outbreaks are usually distributed over thousands and thousands of miles. It takes only the perfect combination to shape them, and they are very short-lived and pretty weak most of the time.

  • Always be prepared for Intense Storms and Tornadoes

The reality is that it is Essential to have some fear of them, even though people may develop intense fears of tornadoes. This keeps us safe, and for all kinds of things, we all have normal quantities of fear to help protect us from danger. So, if there’s a real danger of tornadoes or heavy storms, make sure you’re ready.

  • Know How to Monitor the Weather-If there is a significant threat of storms, it is vital that you have access to alerts, and so on.
  • Understand the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch simply means, “Hey, there’s a chance that at some time between now and when the watch expires, a serious storm (or tornado) may be in your nearby location, so be on alert.””A warning implies, “Take cover, in your area there is a strong tornado and you should take cover NOW. Keep them in mind at all times and be prepared to respond to that detail.
  • Invest in a Weather Radio–Weather radios only cost about $30 or so, and they can make a significant investment. These radios are special in the respect that they will immediately come on and alert you when you have an alarm or a watch.


In this article, we explored the fear of tornadoes and tips to overcome them.

FAQ: Fear of Tornadoes

Why are people afraid of tornadoes?

For several reasons, the fear of storms or tornadoes can grow. Some of the most popular reasons that people acquire this fear through include: Losing a loved one in extreme weather can also cause pain and trauma that can lead to fear of tornadoes, hurricanes, and storms.

Is it calm before a tornado?

The wind will subside before a tornado strikes and the air may become very quiet. This is the calm that precedes the storm. Along the trailing edge of a thunderstorm, tornadoes normally occur and it is not unusual to see a bright, sunlit sky behind a tornado.

How long does a tornado last?

Tornadoes may last for a few seconds to over an hour. The longest-lived tornado in history is truly unspecified, since instead, so many of the long-lived tornadoes recorded from the early-mid-1900s and before are considered to be tornado series. Many tornadoes are less than 10 minutes in length.


Fritscher, L. (2020, January 27). Understanding the Fear of Tornadoes or Hurricanes. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/lilapsophobia-2671866#:~:text=Lilapsophobia%2C%20or%20fear%20of%20tornadoes,of%20that%20storm%20becoming%20severe.

Lilapsophobia. (2021, January 03). Retrieved January 07, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilapsophobia

Lilapsophobia: Overcome Your Fear of Tornadoes, Severe Storms, and Hurricanes. (2018, May 30). Retrieved January 07, 2021, from https://www.registerednursern.com/lilapsophobia-overcome-your-fear-of-tornadoes-severe-storms-and-hurricanes/